By The WBR Team
“Why would they have book covers if we aren’t supposed to judge the book by them?” – Ingrid Weir
When it comes to writing a book, most people (rightfully) focus on the book’s content and overall structure, leaving design until the very end.
However, while substance should be prioritised, it’s important not to overlook the impact creative book covers can have on your sales as an author.
In this blog, we’ll explore how to design a great book cover as well as some book cover design ideas for first-time authors.
What’s in a cover?
There are two key facts every author needs to come to terms with:
1. Your book can (and will) be judged by its cover
Several studies have shown that humans are visual creatures. We remember 80 per cent of what we see, 20 per cent of what we read and 10 per cent of what we hear.
This means that even though there are thousands of quotes urging readers to look beyond a book’s exterior, the cover design still influences their buying decisions to some extent. Imagine browsing through a bookshelf filled with books without covers. That would certainly make it harder to choose the right one, wouldn’t it?
While readers generally choose to buy books for several reasons, an intriguing book cover jumps out at them and offers them all the information they need to make a decision.
2. Don’t DIY your book cover
In today’s world, where Canva and other design tools are easily accessible, it can be tempting to take matters into your own hands and channel your inner DIY designer.
However, unless you’re a professional with years of experience, you don’t want to do this yourself. That’s not to say that you can’t have a clear vision of what you want and stick to it, though, because you absolutely can. But when it comes down to the actual creative process, it’s best to leave it in the hands of an expert who’ll bring your vision to life and create an appealing, professional book cover.
How to design a great book cover: what to do before hiring a designer
Now that we’ve covered the basics, you might be itching to cut right to the chase and start Googling“the best book cover designers for self-publishers”.
Hold that thought.
Before you take that leap, it’s important to get clear on what you want. Many authors find themselves disappointed with their book covers, not because of the designer’s lack of skill, but because they either aren’t sure of what they want or the ideas they shared with the designer were too vague.
So, before you begin your hunt for a designer, here are three things you should do first:
1. Source book cover design ideas within and outside your niche
The first thing you want to do is to search for different types of book covers within your niche or genre. For instance, if you’re writing a sales book, looking at other books within this category on Amazon can bring up some ideas for your book cover.
But don’t just limit yourself to books within your niche. Sometimes, inspiration can come from a completely different field, and that’s alright.
There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from another book cover. If you read our blog on Creative Piggybacking, you’ll know that great artists often spin existing ideas to fit their own narrative and niche audience.
Every great work – whether it’s a classic movie, a book, or, in this case, a book cover – draws its inspiration from somewhere else.
2. Create a shortlist of your favourite covers
Once you’ve done some research around book covers, create a shortlist of your favourite ones and send them to your designer.
When building the Design Brief for all our clients, we typically recommend that they send in a minimum of three reference pictures with notes on what they like and dislike about each one. The logic behind this is simple. While you can clearly communicate what you want, showing rather than telling paints a much better picture and leaves less room for misinterpretations. Explaining what you like and dislike is even more important than the reference pictures themselves because this will show the designer which elements to try and work into your book cover.
3. Pick out elements from your brand
Besides sourcing sample covers, it’s important to also consider other design elements such as the colour, font, typography, and everything else that goes into a book cover.
If you already have a professional brand and website, you might want to ensure that your cover is aligned with your core branding elements. This way, your branding remains consistent across all platforms.
What makes a good book cover?
It’s impossible to figure out how to design a great book cover without dissecting what “great” actually means. If you have your book cover already, here are three questions that will help you decide whether it works or not:
Does it stand out?
Since we’ve already established that readers are more likely to go for visually appealing book covers, this is a pretty crucial question. The best way to answer it is to place yourself in the reader’s shoes.
If you found your book on a bookshelf or on Amazon, would the cover call out to you? Is the title clear enough? If you were a reader, would you be put off by the image quality? Does the cover look as good on a small screen as it does on a larger one?
It’s normal to be self-critical, but if the cover doesn’t stand out to you in any way, chances are your readers will feel the same way, too.
Does it have a clear focus?
Your ideal book cover should reflect and focus on your one BIG idea. While it can be tempting to cram as many elements in as you can, less is usually more when it comes to design. You should focus on one clear element that commands people’s attention and emphasises your big idea.
For example, here’s the cover for one of our client’s books.
Can you guess what the main idea is? Hint: it’s golden.
Does it indicate what the book is about (or who it’s for)?
Finally, your book cover should clearly indicate what the book is about, who it’s for, and offer a sneak peek into the general subject matter it covers.
Ideally, the book’s title, blurb, and endorsements should help you achieve this without needing to introduce additional design elements. If it’s still not clear, it’s worth going back to the drawing board.
We hope you’ve found these book cover design tips helpful. If you’d like some help with bringing your ideas to life and producing a bestselling business book, please book a Clarity Call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how our team of experts can help.